The all-time F1 season will start with a new attempt next Friday, July 3, when the engines will start after a 16-week wait in Spielberg, Austria.
Like other species, F1 racing arrangements need to adapt to the boundary conditions imposed by a coronavirus pandemic.
In practice, the stables will operate in their own small bubbles. Contact with employees of other stables is specifically prohibited.
In terms of travel technology, the bubble idea also applies to travel during the first three races. The stables move from Austria to Hungary on private planes, and at the race venue, employees are only allowed to move between the hotel room and the track.
Competitively, the “new normal” can leave viewers cold. Tire manufacturer Pirelli has become in a hurry with the production of tire kits, so all drivers drive the same tire alloys. The change may make it even more difficult to overtake, as drivers are more likely to choose the same racing strategy and thus not get the same benefit from fresh tires as before.
It may take a while to get a feel for the race. Some of the drivers have driven virtual races with the simulator, some have enjoyed other engines.
– I’ve been driving on gravel and the asphalt. The break has been long and nothing compares to the formulas, but the reactions and driving feel have remained, Mercedes Valtteri Bottas commented on his rally experiments.
The instructions given to the garages on respecting social distances make everything related to car maintenance slower. Work around the car is done in small groups and parts at different times.
– We only have limited time to be with the car. We need to look at how long it takes to replace and modify parts. Everything has to be rescheduled because there can only be a limited number of people around the car, Racing Point technical director Andrew Green reflected on the series’s website.
An engine that breaks down during a busy race weekend can cause a great deal of headaches.
“With a smaller number of mechanics, it can take up to twice as long to change an engine,” Green estimates.
Coronavirus tests will be performed every 48 hours, which means about 12,000 tests in Austria alone.
All those infected, as well as all those who have worked in direct interaction with the virus carrier, will be quarantined. Therefore, the stables will fly spare mechanics and technicians to ensure the continuity of operations even in the event of an infection.
Probably the most special thing for the spectator is that the two tracks are exceptionally raced twice.
The first two race weekends will be run in Austria on Red Bull’s home track. Later in the summer, Britain’s Silverstone hosted two races. This will result in at least 15 races in the competition calendar shrunk by the consequences of the coronavirus.
The traditional award ceremony for the top three drivers after the race will be canceled at least at the beginning of the season. The champagne spray, which is often associated with Formula One in the imagination, is also left out of the program, so the post-race victory drug may remain very mild.
No fans, no well-known guests, no media, no champagne. Everything points in the direction that F1, known for its certain kind of “glamor”, returns in a very different series than it is used to seeing. .